A Fight for Survival | Review of ‘Queen of Hearts’

By Cynthia Ayala

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes Image Credit: Goodreads
Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes
Image Credit: Goodreads

Dinah is the Princess of Wonderland and the future Queen of Hearts. But that future is threatened when an enchanting stranger enters winning her father’s hearts and the hearts of her people. Soon her life begins to unravel as evil plots begin to seep from the shadows and. And if Dinah’s not clever enough she will lose more than her throne.

Published May 3, 2016 by HarperTeen, Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes is the first in her young adult fantasy Queen of Hearts Saga that takes a dark look at the world of Wonderland.

Retellings are filling up the world of literature left and right. On that trend includes retellings of Wonderlands famous Queen of Hearts, always known for being merciless and short tempered. Oakes has given readers a new story about the Queen of Hearts, incorporating elements from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Dinah may be queen but her father, a ruthless man loathes his daughter. He’s an abusive man, emotionally, trying to break his daughter down and ruin her chances of being Queen and taking the throne from him, and this element is a unique surprise to the reader. The king of wonderland never really had a place, in most stories he is considered a meek unthreatening character. So to see the ruthless abuse come from the King of Hearts is an element of shock and awe.

This element inspires pity for Dinah, a character her tries her hardest to earn her father’s approval. Oakes did an excellent job of creating the world, but Dinah, as a character she has her strong moments and her weak moments. While it’s easy to pity her it’s hard to really feel for the character because often she feels like she’s just standing there to take the abuse. As realistic as it is to portray that, even her internal narrative decides to stay quiet. Internal narrative is so important for characterization because it highlights who the character is. Oakes seems to have left much of that out for the opening chapters of the novel. She is a sweet character which offers up a softer side of the Queen of Hearts, a kinder side.

Granted Dinah is not a very stimulating character, she does grow. She becomes stronger, she becomes braver and more determined to keep her throne and her fathers hatred at bay. But, at the end of the day, she’s just a child who doesn’t understand why her father hates her so much. In fact, it’s not clear why he hates her so much, but that’s the point of the novel, to captivate and leave the reader wanting more of the tension and wonder. It’s a wonderful dynamic that the Oakes has created such a believable and scary dynamic between the characters that resonates off the page. The tension between them, this little war they have going on, it’s incredibly enthralling to follow. The Queen of Hearts is growing up and that makes for a wonderful read. ( | B)

Product Details:

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

Page count: 306pp

Age Range: 14 & Over

ISBN: 978-0-0624-0972-0

Publisher: HarperTeen

List Price:  $17.99

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